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Make Yourself Marketable

Job hunting during a recession can make you feel powerless. Take control by researching labor market trends, understanding employers’ needs, and communicating what you have to offer.

Labor market information can help you make informed decisions about your next job.

Federal and state government agencies produce information that can help you learn about the labor market: skill requirements, what’s in demand, how much different occupations pay, and more. Here’s what’s available and how to use it.

DataWhat can it tell me?
Salary data for 800+ occupationsUse salary data to get a sense of typical wages in your occupation or negotiate a salary.
O*NET skill data for 800+ occupationsLearn what an occupation is really like: what skills are required, what the work is like, and which occupations are similar.
Occupational employment projectionsFind out how fast different occupations are projected to grow over the next 10 years. Be cautious about occupations that have little or no growth.
Industry employment projectionsFind out how fast different industries are projected to grow over the next 10 years.
Unemployment rateConsider job hunting in industries and occupations with low unemployment rates.

Your state’s labor market information office may also publish statistics on job vacancies, employment benefits, marketable skills, or other information.

Meet your prospective employer’s needs.

In a recession, employers have many applicants to choose from. Make sure an employer can quickly see why you’re a good fit for the position. Read job ads carefully to fully understand the position. Visit CareerOneStop's Resumes + Interviews section to learn how to tailor your resume and cover letter to the job ad. Research an employer carefully before making contact.

Know how to talk about your skills.

Once you understand labor market conditions and the position you’re applying for, be prepared to talk about your skills. A good first step is to understand what your skills are. Visit What Are Your Skills? for more information.

Next, describe your skills in a way the potential employer will recognize.

  • When highlighting your skills in your resume or cover letter, use the same terms you see in the job ad, if possible.
  • Don’t use technical or industry-specific terms unless you’re sure the prospective employer will understand them.
  • Highlight skills that are rare or especially valuable to a potential employer.
  • Connect the dots for the employer. Describe specifically how your skills will benefit them.

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